A COUNTY Limerick family have been left upset and angry after a household charge warning letter was sent to their father, who died 15 years ago.
The family, who didn’t wish to go public, showed the letter to the Limerick Leader.
“When it arrived it was addressed to my dad who died in 1997. You can imagine the great distress it caused to my mum, who is in her eighties, and my siblings. It is complete stupidity in this modern age,” said a son.
As his father died quite a young man, he says it has brought the pain of his passing all back again.
“She is a very quiet woman but we know when she is out of sorts. I contacted Limerick County Council on her behalf. I explained the situation and the terrible state that this had left my mum in and they were all apologies.
“I made enquiries about whether my mum, who is on a widow’s pension, was entitled to a waiver. I was astounded to learn that she was not eligible. This is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Many others who have paid have received a warning letter.
One is Theresa Gavin, Clarina, a widow in her seventies.
“I thought about not paying it, I wasn’t going to do it but I like to live within the law so I paid it. I was very mad when I got this letter last week and it has gone up to €127. I am on a group water scheme and have my own septic tank so we have no services but I did pay it. And then I am asked to pay it again,” said Ms Gavin.
A Limerick County Council spokesperson said: “Limerick Local Authorities issued letters to householders in Limerick on foot of a request from the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA). The letters issued are based on a database compiled by the LGMA. The LGMA has carried out a comparison between the data on the property registration agency database, and those that have registered and paid, or obtained a waiver, in relation to the household charge.
“Limerick Local Authorities is not in a position to comment on the database of non-compliant householders that was compiled by the LGMA. Householders who have queries or who have already paid the charge and received a letter should contact 1890357357.”
At a Castleconnell local area meeting on Monday, Cllr Eddie Wade said the problem is not the council’s fault.
“It is the fault of another department. It is the database from day one and how they bill people. It could be as simple as one letter different in an address – Aisling Heights or Aishling Heights. It is causing a lot of anger and council staff are getting abuse when it is not their fault,” said Cllr Wade.
Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson, Niall Collins, said it has been a communications disaster visited on every household by Phil Hogan.
“We opposed because it didn’t exempt those in mortgage arrears, unemployed, on old age pensions. It was €100 across the board whether you were a millionaire or on the brink of destitution. They further compounded the problem by spraying these letters in a scatter gun fashion to everybody and anybody, and most particularly the people who have through huge financial burden managed to pay it, but then receive a letter from their local authority which amounts to a quasi summons,” said Mr Collins.
Writing to people who are deceased up to 20 years is just not acceptable, he said.
Mr Collins said they will be opposing the proposed property tax in the Budget.
“If this is the forerunner to the property tax now is not the right time. You have no growth in the economy, 450,000 unemployed, over 200,000 in mortgage arrears, the associated negative equity, and the majority paid the high rate of stamp duty.